Freelancing: 4 Great Ways To Stay Organised
Working as a freelancer is a great way to live as your own boss and enjoy all the flexibility that brings – giving you total control over the tasks you take on and the way in which you manage your time.
However, if you take on more and more clients and allow your schedule to become increasingly erratic, it’s very easy to feel overwhelmed or think that the business is getting away from you.
The most successful freelancers are those who are able to get everything organised, and in today’s article, we’re going to cover some good techniques to get all your ducks in a row and get things done.
Don’t take on too much
When you’re working for yourself and you don’t know when your next paycheck will come, it can become very difficult to say ‘no’ to anything – but this is a common trap for freelancers.
Having too many tasks to do at once is a pretty surefire recipe for ensuring that at least some of them won’t get done as well as they really should – or else you will pay for it in the form of mental stress, burnout, and exhaustion.
If there’s too much to do, it’s unavoidable that something has to give – and whether it’s the quality of your work or the consistency of your health, it’s not good either way.
Instead, it’s okay to say to potential clients for whom you just don’t have room in your schedule to do their work to the right standard. Many customers are likely to respect and remember the commitment you showed to delivering good work for your existing clients and your standards of delivery, and will think of you again the next time they have need of your services.
Create a schedule (and stick to it)
It’s important for human psychology to have clearly a delineated work/life dichotomy. If you’re playing video games at 11am and working on client projects at 11pm, it’s possible that your jumbled-up schedule may end up affecting your concentration and your mental health.
If you let your work spill over into your free time in the evenings and on weekends, and you find that you’re cancelling social obligations due to work and generally not having a life, you will eventually come to resent your freelance vocation – and that’s not healthy.
Having a routine and allowing your mind to get into a familiar groove can be a significant boon for productivity and clarity. Once you know that work starts at 9am and finishes at 5pm (for example – your schedule can be whatever works for you) every day, it’s easier to focus the mind and sort out your tasks. And when the clock hits 5, it’s ‘pens down’ until the next day – no matter what you did or didn’t accomplish.
Harness the power of deadlines
There’s an old adage called Parkinson’s Law, which states that work tasks always expand to fill whatever time is available. In other words, if you’ve got a day to do something you’ll do it in a day, but if you’ve got a week, it’ll take a week.
Self-imposed deadlines in addition to the ones you’ve told to clients can be a great way to keep yourself on track with all of your tasks – or to break those tasks down into smaller micro-tasks with their own deadlines.
If you know that a task has to be finished by 10am, and then another task has to be done by lunchtime and then another by 3pm, that can really streamline your thought process and force you to get things done on a regular schedule.
For even greater effectiveness, you may be able to add in the power of accountability – if you live with your family or a partner, for example, you can try telling them about all your mini-deadlines. Now you’ve told everybody you would have this thing done by lunch, it’s even easier to make sure you get it done and not look like a giant failure.
Designate a space for working
If you work where you play, it can be hard to get in the zone when it’s time to get down to brass tacks and get your tasks done.
The issue of getting distracted when you work from your own home is one that freelancers throughout the ages have grappled with.
It turns out there are great advantages to designating a space in your house that is purely for work. This can be a dedicated ‘home office’ room – or even just a desk or a corner – that you only use during work hours.
That way, whenever you sit down at your special ‘work area’ your brain will know it’s time to knuckle down and crack on.
In conclusion, if you’re a professional freelancer, there are many techniques you might employ to stay organised and keep your tasks on track.
By making sure you don’t take on too much, creating a sensible schedule, setting deadlines for yourself and designating a working space in your home, you can remain on top of your workload and guarantee that all your projects get done in an orderly and sensible fashion.